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Stem Cells International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 250740, 10 pages
Research Article

Differentiation of Dental Pulp Stem Cells into Neuron-Like Cells in Serum-Free Medium

1School of Biosciences and Biotechnology, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
2Department of Orthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3School of Biology, Faculty of Applied Science, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 40450 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
4Allianze University College of Medical Sciences, Waziria Medical Square, Jalan Bertam 2, 13200 Kepala Batas, Penang, Malaysia

Received 13 December 2012; Revised 23 September 2013; Accepted 7 October 2013

Academic Editor: Deepa Bhartiya

Copyright © 2013 Shahrul Hisham Zainal Ariffin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dental pulp tissue contains dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs). Dental pulp cells (also known as dental pulp-derived mesenchymal stem cells) are capable of differentiating into multilineage cells including neuron-like cells. The aim of this study was to examine the capability of DPSCs to differentiate into neuron-like cells without using any reagents or growth factors. DPSCs were isolated from teeth extracted from 6- to 8-week-old mice and maintained in complete medium. The cells from the fourth passage were induced to differentiate by culturing in medium without serum or growth factors. RT-PCR molecular analysis showed characteristics of Cd146+, Cd166+, and Cd31 in DPSCs, indicating that these cells are mesenchymal stem cells rather than hematopoietic stem cells. After 5 days of neuronal differentiation, the cells showed neuron-like morphological changes and expressed MAP2 protein. The activation of Nestin was observed at low level prior to differentiation and increased after 5 days of culture in differentiation medium, whereas Tub3 was activated only after 5 days of neuronal differentiation. The proliferation of the differentiated cells decreased in comparison to that of the control cells. Dental pulp stem cells are induced to differentiate into neuron-like cells when cultured in serum- and growth factor-free medium.